Negotiations between Donald Trump and the Democrats to end a partial government shutdown have collapsed after the president stormed out of a crucial meeting as the opposition leaders stuck by their refusal to allocate $5.7 billion for his controversial US-Mexico border wall.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer accused Trump of slamming his hand on the table before he exited the White House meeting, and they said the furious ignored their pleas to reopen the federal government as they continue to negotiate over his border wall demand.
Funding for a border wall to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants has been the main sticking point in negotiations with Democrats to reopen parts of the federal government that have been shut for 19 days.
A wall along the US-Mexico border was one of Trump’s signature campaign promises. The Democrats are refusing to allocate the money, arguing that a wall would be costly and ineffective. Mexico has rejected Trump’s demand to pay for the border wall.
The standoff triggered a partial government shutdown on December 22, shuttering nine federal departments and several smaller agencies and forcing some 800,000 workers to go on unpaid leave or work without pay. The shutdown entered its 19th day on Wednesday, making it the second-longest in history after the 21-day shutdown in 1995-96.
The president’s walkout from the meeting with Pelosi and Schumer starts a new phase of political uncertainty in the US. White House officials say that the administration is increasingly frustrated with the refusal of Democrats to make a deal, US media reported.
Trump was furious that Pelosi said no when he asked the Democratic leaders if they support the move to fund the border wall within the next 30 days if he ends the partial government shutdown that has crippled many offices.
“Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works (sic)!” a furious Trump tweeted.
Trump earlier said imposing a national emergency to build the wall is the last option and threatened to use it if the Democrats do not allocate $5.7 billion funding for his plan.
He argued that the current situation, wherein people are entering the country illegally and there is a massive smuggling of drugs, poses a national security threat.